A proposed change to North Carolina's ridge protection law unveiled Tuesday would prevent large-scale wind energy production in the mountains.
At the urging of some mountain senators, the state Senate Finance Committee added the restrictions to a bill moving through the General Assembly that will shape where windmills are allowed to be built statewide.
Senate lawmakers this afternoon brought the state a step closer to a total ban on commercial wind development on North Caorlina's mountain tops with an overwhelming vote in the Senate Finance Committee of the General Assembly.
Panel members agreed to restrict wind power development to residential uses on towers limited to 100 feet tall. That restriction prohibits commercial wind farms, which link multiple turbines that can exceed 300 feet.
Local and global environmental worries ran into each other Wednesday on the floor of the state Senate.
"It's a competing environmental issue," state Sen. Joe Sam Queen told fellow senators, "developing alternative wind energy and preserving the beauty of the mountains."
Senate Democrats from Western North Carolina sparred over whether windmills should be allowed to line ridge tops.
State lawmakers held off voting Tuesday on a proposal to ban wind power development in the mountains of western North Carolina. The delay was met with relief by wind power advocates who harbor dreams of erecting windmills in the Appalachian mountains, home to some of the best wind energy resources in the nation.
The commissioners voted unanimously Monday for a resolution which called for much stricter regulation by the state of wind and solar energy projects to ensure they do not encroach on military training areas or routes.
Rows of wind turbines are unlikely to be spinning atop mountain ridges anytime soon.
A Senate committee on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have paved the way for large-scale wind energy production in the mountains.
Large wind turbines are banned under the state's interpretation of a law restricting ridge development. The Agriculture Committee advanced a proposal that would keep it that way, changing the ridge law to cement the ban.